Standing before a judge Monday, the man accused of allowing his 74-year-old mother to die in a chair, covered in her own filth, barely raised his head. Back hunched, Bradley D. Myers seemed to sink into himself, weighed down by the gravity of grief and guilt.
Since the April 2011 death of Geneil Larsen, the son has buried his mother, lost his job and lived with the knowledge that the elderly woman suffered before dying in his care. He has endured enough, said defense attorney Paul Grant.
Third District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills agreed.
Although Myers, 52, faced a maximum of three years in jail on three counts of class A misdemeanor criminal neglect, the judge sentenced Myers to two years probation. During that time, she ordered, he must complete 80 hours of community service and undergo mental health treatment.
Myers, who was supported in court by family, apologized for his actions.
As he spoke, his voice wavered. He paused between words to stifle sobs.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I thought I was doing the best I could. I'm so sorry."
According to investigators, Larsen was found covered in feces and urine inside the home she shared with her son in April 2011.
She had not left the chair she was found in for more than two weeks. Her skin had begun to break down and a pressure ulcer, deep enough to expose muscle and bone, had formed above her buttocks, causing her death, according to court documents.
At a July preliminary hearing, Myers' defense attorney said Larsen would cancel her doctor appointments behind the son's back and would lie about having gotten up and moved around while he was at work.
Salt Lake City police said the home, near 550 East and 600 South, was covered in human and animal feces and garbage, with boxes and other items stacked more than two feet high in places, blocking the only bathroom.
Myers has repeatedly claimed he was unaware of the severity of his mother's condition.
Prosecutors, who asked for jail time, said Myers had previously worked in a hospital and should have known better.
"The defendant should have recognized that these living conditions were horrendous," prosecutor Blake Hills said.
Myers was originally charged with aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. But Hills said there was not enough evidence to prove Myers had acted with malicious intent, a requirement of the felony charge.
Myers pleaded guilty in January to the criminal neglect charges.